Dec. 5, 2008
Named to the First Team, Hafner and Hunt capped their senior campaigns with outstanding seasons. As one of the top tight ends in the country, Hafner leads the Cougars in receptions (85) and touchdown receptions (11), and was twice named the John Mackey Award National Tight End of the Week.
As for Hunt, he enters the bowl game as the team and league leader in sacks with 12, a total that places him in a tie for fourth nationally. Hunt also leads Conference USA in tackles for loss with 16.5, while registering 50 total tackles and three forced fumbles.
Led by sophomore quarterback Case Keenum, four more Cougars were named to the All-C-USA Second Team, including freshman running back Bryce Beall, redshirt freshman wide receiver Tyron Carrier and senior offensive guard Michael Bloesch.
The nation's leader in total offense (416.1 ypg.) and passing (397.3 ypg.), Keenum flourished in the new Cougar offense, completing a school-record 375 passes in 556 attempts with 4,768 yards and 43 touchdowns. His touchdown total ranks second nationally behind the 46 by Oklahoma's Sam Bradford, and the Abilene, Texas, native has thrown for at least 300 yards in a school-record 13 consecutive games.
Beall and Carrier teamed to give Houston one of the top one-two rushing-receiving freshmen in all of Conference USA. Beall has rushed for 1,112 yards and 12 touchdowns, becoming the first freshman in UH history to top 1,000 yards rushing in a season. Beall also has tacked on an additional 30 receptions for 404 yards and four touchdowns, and he enters the bowl game with a team-leading 96 points.
In the absence of fellow freshman wide receiver Patrick Edwards, who was injured and knocked out for the season against Marshall on Oct. 28, Carrier has been the Cougars' big-play receiver down the stretch and has 75 receptions for a team-leading 977 yards and nine touchdowns. He has recorded five 100-yard receiving games, and took over kickoff and punt return duties in the month of November and returned a kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown against Tulsa on Nov. 15.
Starting 35 straight games at left guard, Bloesch is wrapping up his senior season in fine fashion by helping the Cougar offense average 41.2 points, 575.1 total yards and 414.1 passing yards per game. Bloesch and his offensive line mates provided protection for a 4,000-yard passer (Keenum), 1,000-yard rusher (Beall) and almost a 1,000-yard receiver (Carrier at 977.)
Rounding out the all-conference awards are the Third-Team accolades. Senior offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer, junior cornerback Brandon Brinkley and senior linebacker Cody Lubojasky picked up the hardware for their performances in 2008.
Like Bloesch, Vollmer was a part of a very productive offensive line that has the Cougars ranked #2 nationally in FBS in total offense and passing yards. After missing all of the 2006 season with an injured back, Vollmer has started the last 25 games at tackle.
Brinkley started all 12 games at cornerback this season and is tied for the team lead in interceptions with four. Brinkley also has registered a career-high 70 tackles, including an incredible 42 unassisted and 5.5 for losses. His 14 break-ups lead the team.
Finally, Lubojasky wraps up his senior regular season with a spot on the Third Team. Despite missing the first game of his career (Air Force on Sept. 13), Lubojasky still started 50 consecutive games and finished the year with 74 total tackles, including four for losses and four pass breakups.
Houston finished the season at 7-5 and 6-2 in the West Division of Conference USA. After starting the season 1-3, Houston won six of its next seven games, including wins over nationally-ranked opponents #23 East Carolina (41-24) and #24 Tulsa (70-30.) The Cougars are bowl eligible for the fourth straight season and fifth out of the last six.